"Who are the ones who always try to be in the limelight, filing a plethora of bills, especially those of the headline-catching kind?"
The six-year term of the 24 senators of our republic may be divided into two parts. The first part is the first three years of the term, during which period a senator savors the sweet taste of victory and feels no pressure to be productive. The second part of a senator’s term is the last three years of his term, during which period he or she experiences increasing pressure to do a good job of legislating. It is possible to tell which senators are in the second part of their term; they are the ones who try to be always in the limelight, filing a plethora of bills, especially bills of the headline-catching kind.
The senators who are always in the headlines or the news programs these days are the men and women who were elected to the upper chamber of Congress in 2016 and whose terms will expire in 2022. They are Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Francisco Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Vicente Sotto III, Joel Villanueva and Miguel Zubiri.
Having served the maximum two terms by then, Franklin Drilon, Vicente Sotto III and Panfilo Lacson will not be running for re-election in 2022. They will have, in Congressional parlance, graduated. One of the other nine Senators—Leila de Lima—has been an active member of the Senate notwithstanding her having been under detention since 2017.
Of the other eight re-electionists, only one—Manny Pacquiao—appears sure to be re-elected. His status as a boxing icon and his money will almost certainly assure him of victory. As generally predicted, the Kamao ng Bayan has contributed very little to the work of the Senate.
Ralph Recto and Miguel Zubiri have held high positions in the present Congress; Recto is Senate president pro tempore and Zubiri is a name popular with Filipinos and therefore has excellent chances of being re-elected. Zubiri has managed to regain much of the public esteem he lost over the charge that he fraudulently defeated Aquilino Pimentel III in the 2007 senatorial election.
Richard Gordon has been a very active chairman of the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, which is better known as the Blue Ribbon Committee. He probably will suffer some backlash from his widely perceived subservience to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The other female re-electionist in 2022—Risa Hontiveros—has been a very industrious senator, taking active part in the work of the committees of which she is a member. With broad following among women’s and human rights groups, Risa Hontiveros will probably be in the winning circle in the 2022 senatorial election.
With every Liberal voter supporting him, the president of the Liberal Party, Kiko Pangilinan, is a virtual shoo-in for re-election in 2022. His dedicated involvement in the work of the Opposition’s Magnificent Five—the others being Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima, Trillanes IV—Mr. Pangilinan has earned for himself a second tern in the Senate of the 19th Congress.
Joel Villanueva has been an industrious and conscientious chairman of the committee on labor. In the process he has endeared himself to this country’s labor groups. As in 2016 the former TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) chief will have going for him something that the other re-electionists will not have: the backing of a sizeable religious group, his father’s JIL (Jesus is Lord) movement.
Sherwin Gatchalian has fulfilled the definition of a good senator. He, too, has been a steadfast participant in the work of the committees of which he is a member, especially the work of the committee on energy. Like his nickname suggests, Sherwin Gatchalian should be a winner in 2022.